AUTHOR'S NOTE: Another chapter! All before the month mark too. Things will be picking up from here and sadly, I'll be wrapping things up soon. Or trying to at least since I feel this story is winding down. Enjoy!

Stephenie Meyer's the genius, I just take credit for originals.


"You slam doors and knock me off the wire. Been walking lines and you've been burning tires. Slow and easy ain't that what you like? It's insane, it's in vain. You stay to maintain the pain. I hear your name and then it burns a hole. I swear I hate you but I can't let go, the kind of damage you can't console. It's all in vain, it's all insane. I swear you'll stay, I swear you'll stay to maintain the pain."

Chapter Twenty-Four:

"I'm sorry." I finally spoke after a few brief moments of silence. There was a hint of laughter in my voice but I could bet it was on the hysterical side, not humorous. "I could've sworn you just said that Miranda's pregnant."

"I did." Jasper admitted again and I could tell by his expression that he wasn't joking around. This was real and he was finally telling me about it.

But there was a small part of me that wished he hadn't. As soon as he confirmed what he'd just said, I felt like someone had just socked me in the stomach. My lungs suddenly felt like they hadn't been able to expand for a very long time and tears began to prick the back of my eyes. She was pregnant.

This meant Jasper was going to be a father. And I had just made a complete idiot out of myself. The revelation had me reeling all over again. Of course! It all made sense now.

"I see." I finally admitted quietly then slowly rose to my feet. I felt like I was going to throw up at any second and I still had the phantom ache in my chest.

"You see?"

I lifted my eyes to look at him and nodded almost numbly. "Like I said, you can use the car. I'll grab a taxi to take me to the airport." The sick feeling in my gut seemed to subside then. I had a purpose, a reason for my body being in motion. I almost made it to my bag when Jasper grabbed me from behind and whirled me around to face him.

"What were you just saying about running? Baylee, I'm not telling you this so you'll run screaming for the hills. I'm telling you this because...because you asked!"

Seeing the pure terror and fear in his eyes was what snapped me out of my near-hysterical state. This wasn't about me, I could deal with my own issues later. Jasper was freaking out and clearly going to our guardians was out of the questions. Esme would freak out, but eventually come around. She loved babies too much to create any kind of real strife with Jasper.

"You need to take her back." As soon as those words hit the air, we both looked at each other in surprise. And I was willing to bet that we were experiencing the same shock.

"What?" He sputtered and confirmed my thought.

"You heard me." I muttered and pulled my arm from his grasp. "She's gonna need you, that baby's gonna need you. You have to step up now."

I wasn't sure who was more surprised as he started to take clumsy steps away from me; myself or Jasper. I'd been hoping for so long that they would break up. That he would see the error of his ways and want me back. There had been tiny moments of hope but they were all gone now. Nothing was going to be the same after this. Jasper had to go back to Seattle, to the girl he was starting a family with.

A family that wouldn't include me.

It hurt to think about him having a baby with Miranda. Hadn't he been smart enough to use protection? I knew that Esme and Carlisle had drilled it into his head. They'd drilled it into mine and I was seventeen when I came to live with them!

"Baylee." Jasper's voice sounded a million miles away as he waved his hand slowly in front of me. My attention snapped back onto him with a sickening inner jolt of pain. "Baylee, I don't even know if it's mine."

"What?" I sputtered and shook my head slowly. I refocused on him then and ignored the tiny voice in my head, screaming for joy at this possible sliver of hope. I had nothing to gain by Miranda possibly being pregnant by another guy. But that voice just wouldn't be silenced. As it grew louder though, another little voice joined in. Why get my hopes up? The baby was more than likely Jasper's and if it wasn't, did this mean that his pain was going to be intensified?

"Miranda admitted to cheating on me." He started slowly and I had a momentary itch to smack him talking like I was some kind of idiot. Flashing him a look of irritation, a small chuckle passed his lips before he launched into the less shocking part of his story. "Remember when I told you that Miranda came by to talk? Well, she admitted to cheating on me and that she was pregnant."

"So now you're going to have to wait and see." That was the logical next step in all of this. Unless Miranda was playing a sick game on the prospective fathers... Shaking my head quickly, I blew out a noisy breath then flattened my palm over my forehead. But before I could say anything, the shrill ringing of a phone broke the silence and pulled our gazes from each other. I immediately recognized the tone I'd set for Damon's calls. Snatching up the small device, I hit ACCEPT and silently put the device to my ear.

"Baylee?" His voice rushed through, having the perfect inflection of worry and anger. "Where the hell are you? Everyone's worried sick about you."

"I'm fine, thanks for asking." I cut in and glanced up at Jasper. Right then, I didn't even care what I said and how it affected Damon. He was the one who'd left, didn't trust me enough to spend time with my childhood friend without falling onto my back with my legs in the air. Idly I began to wonder if he'd cheated on me yet. Damon was a gorgeous guy and he had his pick of girls in Forks. "What do you want Damon?" I asked sharply, almost a little too sharply. All so I could cut my thoughts off before I had a mental image of the girl he probably chose.

"I want to know where the hell you are and when you're coming home. Like I said..."

"Everyone I care about knows I'm okay and where I am. So either try another excuse or hang up. I don't have time for this."

"Time for this?" I would've shivered if we'd been face to face, the sudden amount of ice cold anger in his voice scared me sometimes. "Time for your boyfriend, Baylee? Really?"

"Really." I really didn't care right then. I just wanted off the phone and fast. "My boyfriend thinks I'm a slut willing to cheat on him at the drop of a hat. So I wouldn't really call him my boyfriend."

He sighed heavily then and I briefly considered recanting what I'd just said. But one glance at Jasper reinforced my mentality. If he didn't trust me with Jasper...well, then our relationship didn't stand a chance. I wasn't the type to cheat on anyone and from where things currently stood, I wasn't entirely sure I could convince Damon of that. Once he had his mind set on something, that was it.

No turning back and no second chances.

"We'll talk about this when I get back." I suddenly announced, caving with every single bone in my body. I was tired of fighting, tired of constantly squaring off with a guy. The decision I had to make was perfectly clear and staring me right in the face. I needed time away from both men. Jasper and Damon. Damon had come in at a really bad time and just complicated things further to the point where I often woke up feeling like I was drowning.

"No we won't." With my decision made, Damon's cold tone didn't bother me as much as it had a few minutes ago. "Either we talk now or I don't wait for you to come home."

"Fine." I muttered then lifted my eyes to stare at Jasper as the next set of words passed my lips. "I need a break. A break from you and a break from Jasper. Your mind about me is already made up so there's really no point in trying to make you see what is really going through my head."

"What?" He sputtered and I paused in hanging up on him. "You're with Jasper?"

"I was." I agreed then smoothly rose to my feet. "But you caught me on my way back to Forks. I don't want to see you when I get back. I haven't taken any time for myself since way before my accident and you know what? I think that's way too long to neglect myself." I pulled in a deep breath then flash a smile. To Jasper and to Damon, who would never see it. "Goodbye."

The phone call died in my hand then I turned to grab my unpacked bag. Jasper was just gaping at me as I crossed the room to the door. "Please drive me to the airport. I meant what I said about letting you take the car."

"Did you mean it?" His voice was so soft that I had to stop and look at him just to make sure he'd actually spoken.

"Did I mean what?"

"What you said...on the phone to Damon."

"Yeah." I sighed and nodded tiredly with a hand gripping the door knob. "I meant it. Jasper, I can't do this anymore. I can't bounce between you and Damon with all this verbal sparring crap. I need time for me. I need to figure out who I am without all this extra crap in my head."

Silence lingered after my last word and I grew a little concerned when he just started nodding his head slowly and silently. Jasper then gestured toward the door. "Why don't we just stay here tonight and we'll drive back in the morning."

"What?" I asked and raised an eyebrow slightly. In my suprise I'd let go of the doorknob, which seemed to boost whatever plan Jasper had cooking in his head.

"Stay here tonight then I'll take you back to Forks tomorrow."

"Why?" I was hideously confused. We'd started out on this for a reason! Jasper wanted to go back to our hometown, why was he changing his mind now? "Why are you wanting to do this? I thought you were deadset on going back to Texas."

"I am." He nodded once then flopped back onto the bed he'd psuedo picked. "But I can do it another time. You want to go home and since we're using your car..." Trailing off, he shrugged as best he could given his position.

I sighed then and let my head fall back before I walked back into the room and dropped my bag. I kicked off my shoes then and slid onto the edge of my bed. "I told you that you can use my car. I meant when I said it."

"I want you to go with me." That threw me for a loop! "I'm not going until you decide you're ready to go with me."

Eyeing him skeptically, I stood up and leaned over him. My face was mere inches from his with hairs falling over my ears. "What's up with you? Are you going to use tonight to try and change my mind or something?"

If he was at all upset by my stance above him, he didn't show any real concern. Jasper was the epitome of serenity as he laced his fingers together then shoved them under his head. "I'm not going to try and talk you out of your decision. If you need a break, you need a break. You of all people have earned it. I support you in what you're doing but don't think you should have to fly home when you have a car. A car that I'm not going to drive down to Texas unless I have you with me. Simple as that."

Looking at him the way I was felt like I was trying to see past his skin and bones into what was really transpiring through his mind. A sickening thought but I pushed it away as I stood up straight and crossed my arms across my chest. "You're working an angle, I know it."

Jasper huffed a sigh then slapped both hands onto the bed before vaulting up into a sitting position right before his legs swung over to lightly kick against my own legs. "I'm not working an angle! Jeez, what as Damon done to your way of thinking?"

My mouth hung open and my eyes widened then, before I was really aware of it, my leg swung back and caused my foot to connect with his shin. Jasper howled then and reached down to cup his leg with both hands. I stepped back and shook my head. "Probably the same damn thing Miranda did to you."

That struck a nerve! Just the desired effect. With a huff, I grabbed my bag then slammed the door shut behind me as I walked into the bathroom. Changing into my pajamas, I didn't bother to inspect my choice too much as I walked back into the main room and burrowed underneath the covers of my bed. "Goodnight Jasper, I'll see you in the morning."

And just like that, I rolled over onto my side and closed my eyes.